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Billions in stimulus bill would aid hospitals, schools and public transit

$100 billion to be directed to hospitals and other health care providers and suppliers

The massive economic stimulus to combat the coronavirus pandemic includes a $339.9 billion appropriations package that would provide $100 billion to hospitals and other health providers and suppliers while spreading billions more among emergency disaster relief, schools, public transit and other federal agencies, according to bill text released Wednesday.

The $100 billion for hospitals in the bill (S 3548) — almost a third of the package — would provide reimbursement to cover health care expenses and lost revenue due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Another $27 billion is set aside for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the Health and Human Services Department, for research and development of vaccines and therapeutics to fight the virus and other medical needs. The sum includes up to $16 billion to be used to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile with medical supplies including drugs and protective equipment.

Other large portions of funding include $45 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Fund, $30.9 billion for schools and $25 billion for public transit.

The FEMA money is designed to support state and local efforts to recover from the pandemic including medical response and protective equipment. The package includes $200 million for shelter, food and services under the Emergency Food and Shelter Program; $100 million in grants to firefighters for protective equipment, supplies and reimbursements; $100 million for enhanced sanitation at airport security checkpoints and other airport costs; and other funds for emergency management, the Coast Guard and other agencies.

The $30.9 billion in education funds includes $13.5 billion in formula grants for states to help schools deal with closures, meet needs of students and teachers and purchase technology for online learning. Another $14.25 billion is allocated to higher education to cover lost revenue, technology costs for distance learning and grants to students for food, housing and other expenses.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said more than 80 percent of the funds in the bill would go directly to state and local governments. “States and localities facing this head-on are in desperate need of federal support,” he said in a statement. “Delivering these resources and providing relief is our responsibility.”

Another section of the larger stimulus package would create a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for state, territorial, tribal and local governments. All but $11 billion of that fund would go directly to states. States have been hammered by the coronavirus in the form of lost revenue due to the halted economy. Despite the creation of the fund, key state leaders said the amount wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs of responding to the pandemic.

Other funding includes:

  • — $15.5 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to accommodate increased need for food stamps due to the pandemic.
  • $10.5 billion for the Defense Department with most of it spread around various military health programs, as well as $1.5 billion for National Guard deployments.
  • $10 billion in formula grants to support commercial airports to help operators meet ongoing needs and manage construction projects as air travel and revenue plummet.
  • $8.8 billion for child nutrition programs to provide meals to children while school is not in session.
  • $5 billion to the Community Development Block Grant program to provide states and communities with funds to help the elderly, homeless and others through the crisis.
  • $4.3 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a minimum of $1.5 billion in grants to state and local governments and tribes to purchase protective equipment, carry out surveillance and laboratory testing, infection control and other activities. When combined with an earlier supplemental, it brings funding for states and localities to $2.5 billion.
  • $1 billion for the Defense Production Act implemented by President Donald Trump to ramp up production of protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies.
  • $1 billion to the Indian Health Service to support tribal health care system.
  • $1 billion to the Community Services Block Grant program to help communities deal with unemployment and economic disruption.
  • $1 billion to Amtrak to cover revenue losses and help states pay for their share of the cost of state supported routes.
  • $400 million in election security grants to help states increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and provide additional voting facilities in the 2020 election.
  • $260 million for Navy operations and maintenance including funds to deploy USNS Comfort hospital ship to New York and USNS Mercy to Los Angeles.
  • $200 million for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to assist nursing homes with infection control.

The funding hits almost every corner of government, including the Smithsonian Institution, which would get $7.5 million to develop increased telework capabilities and cleaning of the facilities, and $25 million to the Kennedy Center for cleaning and telework.

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